One of the major themes of discussion to arise at the 2016 Make Your Mark event, held by Superyacht Events for marketing experts, was the need for the superyacht industry to become more socially responsible. This discussion arose in light of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s 94m motoryacht, Tatoosh, reportedly destroying nearly 80 per cent (1200sqm) of a Cayman Islands reef.

“On January 14, 2016, M/Y Tatoosh was moored in a position explicitly directed by the local Port Authority. When its crew was alerted by a diver that her anchor chain may have impacted coral in the area, the crew promptly, and on their own accord, relocated their position to ensure the reef was protected.” So read the first statement released by Vulcan, Allen’s company, after the reef damage was discovered.

On February 8 Vulcan released a secondary statement. “Since the incident occurred, Mr. Allen and Vulcan have taken steps to develop a remediation plan to restore the reef. We took this step even though extensive past and recent damage to this same reef, as a result of other incidents, makes it difficult to determine what, if any, actual damage was caused by the Tatoosh.”

Portion of damaged coral

Allen, who through various companies, trusts and other interests, has personally bank rolled countless wildlife conservation projects, including the protection and regeneration of coral reefs. Yet, “the coral reef damage does not reflect well on this industry,” said Ana Andjelic of Havas Luxhub, the luxury communication specialists. “The luxury values of old are now viewed negatively. It is now considered critical to have commercial social responsibility at the core of a business model.” The running of a superyacht is just that, a business.

‘Unfortunate’ is not a word most would choose to describe the UHNWIs that own superyachts. However, when it comes to public relations, the corporate processes on which they rely so heavily can often land them in trouble. The legalese that is so effective as a corporate barrier, at times, fails to sooth public opinion, opinions that are often formed on the actions of an individual not a corporation.

When it comes to the ownership and misuse of a superyacht the buck always stops with the owner, as has been proved by the Tatoosh incident, a misfortune that occurred when Allen wasn’t even on board. Unfortunately, it is the exploits of the few, to which the media takes a fancy, that mar the name of the industry as a whole.

“The coral reef incident should be condemned and lessons should be learnt; owners need to be educated,” continued Andjelic.

Encouragingly, Allen has acted upon his philanthropic spirit and his ability to aid the situation, using his substantial finances and various projects to spearhead the remedy with or without the burden proof. This, sadly, is not always the case. A tendency to contest accusations of negligence has, at times, damaged the industry’s reputation.

If you have any stories relating to instances of unpunished negligence or compassionate social responsibility feel free to contact the SuperyachtNews.com team at newsdesk@thesuperyachtgroup.com